Playing in Traffic: Sales Up, but Traffic Down?
I have had a chance to speak to several retailers over the past few weeks all who have asked about this year's dynamic of traffic down and sales up. There are several influences at play here and I will discuss the ShopperTrak view. The economy is still fragile; jobless rates and gasoline price are still high and have a downward pressure on traffic. While we have seen some improvements in some economic indicators, which should give shoppers the willingness to spend during the holiday season, there are still a lot of consumers forced to the sidelines.
The biggest factor in traffic shrink and improving sales in 2011 has been the Internet. Today, it’s everywhere with instant access to information via computers, tablets and smart phones. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, smart phone sales are expected to grow 45% in 2011. With these devices, consumers can find product descriptions, prices and reviews in an instant. It’s no longer necessary to travel from store to store seeking price, data and stock levels. Simply look it up and head to your targeted location. This trend is resulting in fewer trips to stores and leads to an overall traffic reduction. That being said, the traffic arriving to the stores is primed to buy and therefore needs a new level of customer commitment by retailers. Today, if a consumer leaves your store without converting to a buyer it is a significant failure somewhere in the system. Consumers have chosen to visit through research and with the full intent to buy, therefore retailers should see organic growth in conversion rate if they have the right formula on the floor. Product, selection, assistance and a good experience will fulfill the shopper’s needs and convert to a sale. Repeated success here will lead to loyal shoppers and, more importantly, advocate shoppers who will spread the word through social channels.
Bill Martin is the founder of ShopperTrak. The company’s innovative retail traffic solutions demonstrate a market leadership position in the retail, gaming, hospitality and entertainment industries with the most advanced set of specialized traffic information tools available today.